Oct 29, 2014

By Floyd Wickman, Chairman and Founder of The Floyd Wickman Team, LLC 


I love woodworking because I enjoy every step of conceiving a project: selecting the tools, buying the wood and hardware, cutting, assembling, sanding and finishing. Looking back on a completed project, there’s something very satisfying about knowing that you’ve done it all yourself. 

I don’t really care how long it takes, or how much it costs, because it is a labor of love. It is a hobby. It is a throwback to the days of old world craftsmanship. I could delegate the sanding, but I love doing it myself. 

Here’s a fact. There are more one-person real estate companies in North America than all the others combined. The practice of real estate seems to attract the do-it-yourself personality. There is a lot of satisfaction in taking a transaction from first meeting to closing, and doing it all yourself. 

Doing real estate one deal at a time all by yourself works well for many people, up to a point. But if you want to grow a business beyond one deal at a time, the key is learning how and what to delegate.

If you buy in to this idea, let me offer you my take on delegating, and let’s see if we can’t help you grow your business one task at a time.  

Figure Out What To Delegate 

  • The smartest business people I know take a time out whenever they are feeling overwhelmed, or like they are just spinning their wheels and not getting anywhere. During this time out, they take a look back at what they have been devoting their time to and analyze their activity. 
  • If you do this analysis honestly, you will begin to see that there are some things you are doing that could be eliminated completely, because they don’t get you one step closer to your goals. That frees up some time. 
  • You may also see there are things you are doing the “old-fashioned” way that could be automated, and automatable tasks usually takes less time, less thought, and are more accurate and reliable. (Hardly anyone does their own tax returns by hand anymore.) 
  • But if you reengineer honestly, you will identify tasks you could get other people to do for you, either just by asking them, or by paying them. Let’s focus on the things you could pay others to do for you. 
  • I have a saying you may have heard. “You can’t earn $100,000 a year doing minimum wage tasks.” Do the math. Even if you earned the proposed minimum wage of $10.10 an hour, and worked 8 hours a day, 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year, you would still only earn $21,008! 

Your time is worth more than that! So now that you have figured out what you want to delegate, here are some of my rules of the road. 

How To Delegate 

  • If you have an assistant, you should feel comfortable delegating any kind of personal or business task to them, or else you don’t really have an assistant. You should feel comfortable saying, “Please go get my car washed.” Or, “Go pick up the dry cleaning.” Or, “Get this lockbox installed at Happy Hollow.” 
  • Be clear when you delegate about how you expect a specific task to be done. Make sure the person you are delegating to is as clear about that as you are. Explain, then ask and listen. 
  • Be clear when you delegate about when you expect the task to be completed. 
  • Understand that things will hardly ever be done as well or as timely as you could have done them yourself. On the other hand, sometimes people will surprise you with how conscientious they can be. So when you delegate something, let it go. Trust them. As Linda taught me many years ago with our three boys, “If you show that you trust them, they will go out of their way to prove you right. And if you show that you don’t trust them, they will go out of their way to prove you right.” 
  • Understand that training someone else to do something for you will almost always take longer than if you had done it yourself. The first time, almost always. Sometimes the second and the third time, too. Be patient
  • If they do what you ask them to do, thank them often. Acknowledge them. Praise them as publicly as you can, as long as it’s not overdone or fake. 
  • If they don’t do what you ask them to do, correct and direct the first time. Correct and direct the second time. The third time, you have a decision to make. Once is understandable. Twice is forgivable. Three times is a trend. Much worse than not delegating at all, is thinking you have delegated something, only to have to do it yourself much later and after the fact. 

That’s the hardest part of learning how to delegate. Trusting yourself and letting go. The more you do it, the easier it becomes. The easier it becomes, the more you can see the possibilities for growth.

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